Team USA took a close contest in the third quarter and stretched it to a double-digit lead for most of the fourth quarter and held on to defeat Team Canada in the Fiba U19 semifinal 92-86.
For the three Purdue players, two will go into tomorrow feeling good with a Gold medal game waiting for them, Caleb Furst and Jaden Ivey, while the biggest Boilermaker on the international scene will have a bronze medal game waiting despite Zach Edey’s monstrous 16 point 16 rebound game.
It was a rocky game, and by that I mean, there were a lot of rocks and bricks thrown back and forth. The teams combined to go 15-48 from three point range, with Team USA really struggling, shooting below 24% from distance.
For Purdue fans, it was a frustrating watch.
The highlight was by far Edey’s continued dominance. The big man was a wrecking ball in the paint, gobbling up rebounds, smashing dunks, and eating shots at the rim. He had three blocks and 9 OFFENSIVE REBOUNDS!
The frustrating part comes from Team Canada’s philosophy: have Edey run out to set a high pick and roll, and let guard Ryan Nembhard attack and miss a lay up where Edey can hopefully at full speed grab and put back in the hoop. Nembhard did this a lot, going 7 of 22 from the floor and 4 of 14 inside the three-point line.
It was clear that Edey was Canada’s one clear edge on the floor. Other star Canadian Caleb Houston 6 of 19 from the floor.
As was the case in most close games for Canada, a possession that didn’t go into Edey’s hands was a wasted one, and there was a lot of garbage on the court.
But not to be outdone, Coach Dixon decided to piss in Boilermaker fans Wheaties by going with his guy and benching Jaden Ivey for the majority of the second half and the entirety of the fourth quarter after the sophomore guard led Team USA in scoring going into the game.
Ivey had a limited run in the second half as Team USA got sloppy and turned the ball over and forced shots. Needing a basket as Team Canada cut the lead to 57-56, Ivey drove hard to the lane, hung in the air and drew the foul. He knocked down both free throws and gave Team USA a bit of breathing room and helped stop the bleeding.
He was promptly removed from the game to not return. I’m not bitter or anything.
There was some fun in the game, as Caleb Furst came into the game and was matched up with his soon to be teammate Edey.
Furst showed what will be his most effective skill next season - finding open spots against a defense not that concerned by him. Immediately into the game, he moved baseline against a distracted Edey and popped open for a mid-range jumper that he splashed. At the other end, Edey showed he was just too big for the incoming freshman. But this was a rare post up touch granted by the Canadian guards, and is just the inevitable outcome of a good post look for the Big Maple.
Furst would miss another open mid-range, but he also had a nice back cut when Edey was pulled near the free throw line. The lefty was patient, kept his eyes on the rim, contorted and made a nifty looking lay up for his second basket of the game.
It was a good win for Team USA, current bias and bitterness aside, and the US squad will now play their third straight game with Gold on the line against the winner of France and Serbia.
The loser of that game will have to take on Edey and his Team Canada team on Sunday.